Portishead open-air pool restaurant eviction row

A couple who run a restaurant in Portishead are sleeping there in an attempt to avoid being evicted.

Deborah and Martin Griffith lease the Lockhouse from Portishead Open Air Pool but have been told to leave over a disputed £7,000 electricity bill.

The Griffiths said an electricity meter was not installed for eight months and have asked for a breakdown of the bill.

A statement from the trustees said the Lockhouse Restaurant was in "breach of its tenancy terms".

Mrs Griffith said the pool's trustees turned off the power 10 days ago and the restaurant had been closed ever since.

'Refusing to talk'

She said the electricity bill for her second restaurant in the town, which is of a similar size, was only £1,500-£1,800 per year.

The bill for £7,000 for the Lockhouse is for the period between December 2009 and January 2011.

"We'd like a breakdown of the bill, we'd like to see copies of the original bill," she said.

"For the first eight months there was no meter involved so we're only asking for a fair breakdown of the bill - we're not refusing to pay."

She added they had asked for the bill to be independently assessed which she said was turned down by the trustees.

"They are refusing to talk to us and refusing to pick up the phone to us," she added.

A statement from the trustees sent to BBC News said claimed they had repeatedly attempted to resolve the situation.

'Unpaid invoices'

"The tenant promised repeatedly to make payments to cover electricity costs but apart from a nominal payment on account of 2009 usage did not pay at all.

"The trust had repeatedly demanded payment of these accrued 2009 and 2010 electricity costs and again made demands in December 2010 and January 2011 for payment without result or reply from the tenant.

"By end February 2011 in excess of £11,000 accrued cost to the trust of electricity supplies on-charged to the tenant remained unpaid (not including charges not yet invoiced for February and March 2011)."

The statement added that the trust's financial director had met with the restaurant owners to "go through the calculations shown on the various unpaid invoices."

Portishead open-air pool reopened to the public after a successful campaign to save it in 2009.

Recently, the pool's former director Roger Whitfield was voted out of his position at its annual general meeting.

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